A new study casts doubt on the possible link between cell phones and brain cancer, but experts say the risk can't be ruled out.This is one of those debates which seems fated to go on and on forever. The majority of studies find no link, and no mechanism by which to link cell phones with brain cancer. A few studies show a significant link. Who is right? Well, even under the best of circumstances, you expect a few studies to show positive results even when the underlying relationship is non-existent. The purpose for studies is to quantify the risk that you will find a significant effect when none exist (We usually try to control that risk to a maximum of 5%), and the risk that you will not find a risk that truly exists (called beta error, that varies depending primarily on sample size.
The study of 358,403 Danish cell phone plan subscribers over 17 years -- the largest study of its kind -- found subscribers of 13 years or more faced the same cancer risk as non-subscribers.
"In general, our findings are in line with most of the epidemiological research that has been conducted to date," said Patrizia Frei of the Danish Cancer Society's Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, lead author of the study published today in the journal BMJ. "They are also in line with in vitro and in vivo studies that show no carcinogenic effects on the cellular level."
The results come just five months after a panel of experts from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer deemed cell phones a possible cause of cancer -- a statement that sparked fear in many of the world's 5 billion cell phone users.
In any event, I'm inclined to think that if the relationship is real, the risk is small. But then, I don't use my cell that much anyway. YMMV.